My personal experience with a cult

In 1998 I got involved (in a very light manner) with a cult. That was a time where I was living in UK and I was feeling very lonely. I was working in Kingston as a developer, just by the river and I loved the job. But I was so alone and without any help from anyone at that point in time (I had just broke up with my fiance too), that naturally, I needed to find comfort and friendship.

I don’t remember how I met that young Polish woman, but I think she approached me in the train on the way to work. We talked about some things and then she asked me if I was a Christian etc etc. To make the long story short she explained to me that she was a member of the International Church of Christ (ICC) and she asked me if I would like to go to Church with her on Sunday or to do Bible study together.

While I was frequenting Catholic, Orthodox and ‘Church of England’ masses when I felt like doing so, I knew that the ICC was a cult of sorts, so I told her “why don’t we start with Bible study in our lunch breaks, and then we will see if I will come to your church”. And so we did a few times. Basically, they use the same Bible as other Christians do, but they are all about discipline and following the word of the Bible to the letter. So even if Christ or St Paul might have used allegory or being sarcastic (or even funny) about something, they would take the meaning literally. They were black and white in their belief and I also really disliked their “requirement” of giving 10% of your annual income to their “Church”.

Despite this, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and follow her in their church once, somewhere in the south-east of London. The mass was pretty nice, there was lots of singing and socializing. The people there all felt to me as being genuinely good people. Nothing really abnormal in them or even in the way the mass was performed. But when the time for getting the communion came (a sort of dry bread IIRC), the basket that was passed around fell off my hands! Of course, I felt really silly and bad about this, but on the other hand, I took this as a sign. In the Orthodox church, which is how I grew up, spitting out the communion or dropping it, is a major offense. IF God exists and wanted to give me a pointer as if I should have joined ICC or not, he would have chosen exactly this: me, throwing down the communion, even if it was by mistake, because he would know that I would react on this.

Despite this again, and of course, with the untiring effort of my friend to get me in their cult, I agreed to visit a house in South London with her to do Bible study with some other ICC members. It was me, her and two more women present in the house, and for about 30 minutes we read the Bible. So far, so good. Then, one of the women there suggested to… baptize me. Of course, I was already baptized in an Orthodox church, but ICC claims that baptism from any other church does not count, because it had happened without the consent of the follower in that early age. They also claim that you can be baptized by any other Christian, not just by a priest. This actually does makes sense, because this is how the first Christians in the 1st and 2nd century A.D. were doing it too (ICC tries to recreate the first Christian life up to a point).

But I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do that. Getting “baptized” by them, it would mean that I would become one of them. I needed time to think… I asked if there was a bathroom around. I visited the bathroom, and guess what: my period had just arrive. And while I have a very steady cycle of period throughout my adult life (28 days), this period has arrived just within 15 days of my previous one! And this is another major pointer for me, because again, according to the Orthodox Church you can’t be baptized, or get communion, or kiss the pictures of the saints if you have your period. Sure, it can all be a coincidence, and it could all be my own subconscious ordering my body to do things it wouldn’t normally do because of my underlying objection to cults. But no matter if it was all a coincidence, or my subconscious or God himself, I didn’t need another pointer. I did not get “baptized” by the ICC members and I never went to their mass again.

Of course, the Polish friend did not stop trying to get me back (aka “bothering me”)… I decided to give her faith one more chance, but this time I was the one who was doing the preaching. One Sunday afternoon that we met up I told her a little story and asked her opinion on it. The story was a 300-year old Greek story about Saint Cosmas o Aitolos (aka ‘Cosmas the Aetolian’). During that time the Greeks were under Turkish occupation. St Cosmas was living in a mountain, in his monastery and he had the respect of both the Turks and the Greeks for known to be being a wise man. One night, a man knocked on his door and he said “Father Cosmas, please hide me! The Turks are after me, I committed a crime in the village at the planes… I killed a man tonight”. Cosmas replied “who did you kill?” and the man replied with a name. True enough, a few minutes later the Turks were banging on the door of St Cosmas. Cosmas hid the killer, and the Turks didn’t even bother to look at the monastery, as they were trusting the monk with his word because of his good reputation.

Then, I asked my Polish friend what did she think about what Cosmas did. And she replied that what he did was wrong to give refuge to a killer and that according to the Bible he should have given him to the authorities. Then I told her the remaining part of the story: the man that was killed was Saint Cosmas brother, and yet, the monk forgave the killer in an act of immense love and care. She replied that this is not what the Bible says that we should do. That was the last straw, I politely told her that I don’t want to see her again. Through this parable and her reaction it was obvious to me that these people are making “dry readings” of the Bible and they don’t even understand the most basic Christian values: love and forgiveness.


Joe wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 1:57 AM PST:

Great story! My friend and I live in area known for its collection of large evangelical Protestant megachurches. We are often accosted by aggressive evangelical Protestants who insist that Orthodox Christians are not “real Christians” and must learn and accept their version of the Gospels since they themselves are the “real Christians.” I have spent hours explaining the Faith and in argument with these proselytizers, but my friend has come up with an simple, elegant and irrefutable way to counter them. My friend told me: “I just read the Gospels to them and they don’t ever have any answer to them.”

Andrew wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 8:07 AM PST:

No freaky sex cult? :(

The Raelians are .. interesting in that aspect. Couldn’t bring myself to actually believe in any of it though.

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Eugenia wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 8:10 AM PST:

If it was a freaky/sex cult I would have shut them out from the first moment. I am old school.

Optimus wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 8:35 AM PST:

Interesting story.

I was once approached by a lady while I was in Germany. She wanted to sell me a book called “Dianetics”. I bought it and even read it, even though several things on it didn’t made sense to me. Later, I’ve learned it’s a book from Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology. And there was a list of Scientogy center’s around the place I was living then, in the back pages of the book. Duh :P

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Eugenia wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 8:55 AM PST:

Scientology: YUCK. I prefer to become an ICC member 1000 times more than becoming a Scientologist. It is widely known how dangerous scientology is. Their beliefs are beyond crazy from what I’ve read.

Thom Holwerda wrote on January 23rd, 2007 at 11:46 AM PST:

Scientology must die. No questions asked. It must be banned, and forbidden. It’s a money scam.

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